Clearly Green Design on history’s great, green brands in tough economic times

19 03 2009

The “Best Overall” trophy won during Auburn University’s Department of Industrial and Graphic Design’s annual Designing Green competition.

A Green Printer ‘Design Goes Green’ dispatch.

A contributing post by Deb Ozarko, Director of Creative Services for Clearly Green Design, an Ottawa, Canada based visual communications firm for ethical businesses and organizations.

There is no escaping the dark news about today’s current economic situation. Regardless, there are ways for us to all survive – and thrive – simply by asking ourselves one question: Want or Need?

In a planet faced with the tragic fallout from the over consumptive patterns of typical North American society, an economic crisis may just what we need to show us the true cost of our spending habits.  It would not hurt us a bit to do less spending on frivolous – and often environmentally damaging items, and pay more attention to consumer or donor messaging so we can begin to develop an overall higher eco-consciousness.

Case in point, I’ve noticed that many non-profit organizations often sell or give away unnecessary “trinkets” in their online stores or in their mailings in order to fundraise. Many of these items are manufactured and shipped from somewhere halfway across the globe, which means questionable labour practices, questionable environmental laws and an unquestionable eco-shipping footprint. Many savvy and eco-conscious donors are scrutinizing these items carefully and now see them as nothing more than waste. Rather than risk the criticism and scrutiny, this “swag funding” (and don’t think that non profits are the only guilty parties!) would be far better off redirected towards carefully targeted visual communication.

On this topic, many businesses and organizations feel that by slashing their budget for marketing and communications, they are responsibly reducing overall operational costs. In reality, this may actually be doing more harm than good. It may seem counter intuitive to spend on design and marketing efforts when the public is not purchasing or donating but history shows that many great brands were created and thrived  during tough economic times when organizations adapted to their customers’ changing needs. While your competitors may back off and disappear from the minds of their supporters, your organization can expand its exposure and grab additional market share. Ultimately, this means much higher triple bottom line profit, growth and a vastly stronger market presence once the economy bounces back.

Despite this, it may still be important to embrace cost cutting strategies – but beware – cost cutting does not mean cutting corners. Times like these call for solid vision and ethical leadership – no shortcuts. If your business or organization has pledged a commitment to the environment, it is more imperative than ever to stay on course – and, better yet, take it even further! Maintain your environmental values, stay true to your eco-commitment and never waver. A report just released by the business consulting firm A.T. Kearney reported, “during the current economic slowdown, companies that show a “true” commitment to sustainability appear to outperform their industry peers in the financial markets. So, that being said, while you may WANT to cut corners, you NEED to stay on track with your environmental commitment – for your organization, for your triple bottom line and, most importantly, for the planet.

To ensure solid and well targeted visual communications, make sure to partner closely with well trained, ethical and green committed communications experts to craft clear and precise messaging. Your customers and donors will take notice and today’s recession may feel like nothing more than a little annoying turbulence!


Want to know how much greenhouse gas, trees and wastewater you can save by using affordable, eco-friendly paper products? Find out and keep track of your organization’s environmental savings today by adding Green Printer’s Eco-Calculator widget code to your blog or website.



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